Pacific Science Center

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PacSci-Doku: “High Flyer”

By Dennis Schatz – Senior Advisor

Do you Sudoku? It’s one of the hottest number games around! Well, here’s a twist we think you’ll love. We call it PacSci-Doku. Can you guess why? Here’s how it works. Instead of filling in the blanks with numbers, we use letters. Hidden in one of the columns or rows is the answer to a science question. You’ll find information about the answer on the answer tab below.

The question in this edition is:

What animal’s migration includes surviving at 26,000 feet?

To find the answer, complete this PacSci-Doku using the following nine letters:

E  e  A  a  D  d  H  R  B

PacSci-Doku: High Flyer

Puzzle Difficulty: Easy

The Answer

PacSci-Doku: High FlyerThe question in this edition is:

What animal’s migration includes surviving at 26,000 feet?

The answer: Bar-Headed goose

In just a half day, the bar-headed goose migrates each year from sea level in India to the Tibetan highlands. This requires flying at 26,000 feet over the Himalayas. Humans typically need supplemental oxygen well before that altitude, so how do the birds survive at that altitude while expending so much energy to be fast fliers? Experiments that have the birds flying in a wind tunnel and walking on treadmills, show that there are more capillaries around its flight muscles to ensure oxygen gets to the muscles. The geese also slow their metabolism at high altitude, low oxygen conditions, which decreases the amount of oxygen needed to fly. The cold temperature at 26,000 feet also allows blood to carry more oxygen. These are only some of the factors that allow the bar-headed geese to fly at such high altitudes. Learn about more these factors here and here.

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